The Tree

I had stood here in this courtyard for only 376 years when my lovely Dryad came to live within me. Her coming was great joy to me. So lovely, so unpredictable, illusive as gossamer, I loved her at first sight. She became my true spirit. I could share my life with her, tell her of my early youth, how Lady Anne had planted me to commemorate the resurrection of her castle after those terrible years of bloodshed and destruction which, thankfully, I never knew.

We Yews are known as trees of life and resurrection. I was able to tell my Dryad how storytellers of Northern cultures still celebrate our life-giving powers, how we outlive all their known generations and how our great longevity sustains wondrous tales of regeneration whilst all around us other creatures, plants and trees wither and die.

And now my lovely Dryad has come to share my life, for how long I cannot tell, but as long as she is with me, she will share my past, present and future for she too is a creature beyond charted time, a whisper of light, a flicker of wings. She will share the lives of the creatures snug in the cracks and fissures of my bark, of the blackbirds, thrushes and fieldfares who feast on my berries in the chill of winter. She will play with the inconsequential squirrels, the lumbering badgers, the little bats who swoop above me in the twilight as the owls call. She will sing of mysteries beyond my ken and express for me those things, too deep for words, that I have seen and felt but cannot form into words as the wind breathes through my outstretched boughs.

As I grow, I reach deep down into the earth, stretch ever higher into the sky; I am the Life connecting earth and heaven; I never die. Although my strong boughs have brought death to many men, my spirit had no part in willful pain; although my berries have brought death to cattle, they have also fed the hungry migrants resting in my branches. I have long given medicines to men and now, in this 21st century, I hear my young needles can assuage dire disease.

Who can say what centuries may bring? My oldest relative in this land of Britain has lived already almost 4,000 years. What changes, what disruptions has she seen? What amazing futures will I see?

And now I have a living fairy spirit to see and share all my joys, and sorrows too. I have heard that in myth and legend the spirit of the Yew is the oldest of the tree spirits. I hope that, in this courtyard where humans pass and creatures shelter, we two will grow old together through centuries of time and weather.

Author: Judith

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